Drain clogs

Common causes of clogs include:

  • hair accumulating in the drain,

  • small pieces of soap stuck in a drain that often attract and bind hair

  • small bits of paper from a soap wrapper or a toy or jewelry clog the drain

  • grease poured down a kitchen drain and solidifying

  • food or bits of plastic or paper washed down a kitchen drain

Tips to Clear a Clogged Toilet:

  1. If a toilet is overflowing, first stop the flow of water. Turn the small valve (typically a chrome or plastic handle below and behind the toilet) clockwise to close the valve and stop the flow of water.

  2. If the water isn’t draining at all from the bowl, you’ll need to manually remove a portion of it. Consider using a plastic container or disposable cup to lower the water level in the toilet bowl

  3. The easiest and first thing to try when attempting to unclog a toilet without a plunger is hot water. The addition of hot water might be enough to loosen the clog and dislodge the blockage. Fill a bucket with about a gallon of hot water from the sink or bathtub. Then pour the hot water into the toilet bowl.

  4. If the toilet is still draining slowly, pour a generous amount of liquid dish soap into the partially filled bowl. The grease-cutting properties of the soap can help disolve any solids that caused the blockage. Add some hot water and allow the soap to soak into the clog, as you might do with a dish to ease removal of baked-on debris.

  5. Try to break up the cause of the clog if the water is still not draining from the bowl as it should. If the culprit is visible in the drain at the bottom of the toilet bowl, use a straightened wire hanger to break up or dislodge the clogged area. Avoid scratching the surface of the porcelain. You can also try a similar technique using toilet brushes. Wrap the bristles of the brush with a plastic sack. Secure the bag to the brush handle with a rubber band. Insert the wrapped bristles into the clogged toilet drain and use an up-and-down motion to remove the clog.

  6. Another potential home remedy for unclogging a toilet without a plunger uses vinegar and baking soda. The bowl needs to be about half-full of water before adding the other ingredients, so adjust the level accordingly. Add one cup of baking soda to the water. Then slowly pour the vinegar into the bowl. The chemical reaction will create fizz. Wait and hope that the water level goes down, which would indicate that the clog has been cleared. Tip: Epsom salt also produces a fizzy chemical reaction, so you could attempt using it you have it sitting around your bathroom instead of a plunger.

How to Use a Plunger Like a Plumber:

  • The red shallow cupped model is actually a sink plunger so it’s not very effective on toilets. But the black plunger is specifically designed for toilets. It has a deeper cup and a flange at the bottom that seals around toilet drains.

  • A toilet plunger works by forcing pressure against the blockage in the toilet's U-trap. The force should push the clog out so the bowl can drain.

  • Remember, you need water in the bowl to plunge effectively so if the bowl is empty, allow more water to flow into the bowl before plunging.

  • Now grasp the plunger with both hands and seat it carefully around the drain in order to create a good seal. Then give the plunger several forceful thrusts. Ten or twelve rapid thrusts will usually clear out most soft clogs. You may have to repeat the process several times to break up stubborn clogs.

  • If the blockage is solid, like a child’s toy, the plunger may or may not dislodge it. And if the clog is beyond the toilet, deep inside the branch drain or main sewer, a toilet plunger won’t help.

Drain Cleaner:

When all else fails, it's time to try a chemical drain cleaner. Drain clogs are usually caused by hair, soap, or grease. Many drain cleaners only help with one type of clog. The most effective drain cleaner is a specific type of cleaner. It is Liquid-Plumr Industrial Strength. It is sold at Walmart, Home Depot, and Lowes and costs about $5 for a single use size. Here is what it looks like:

Tips to Clear a Clogged or Slow Sink, Shower, or Tub Drain:

  1. If a sink, shower or tub is overflowing, first stop the flow of water.

  2. Baking Soda and Vinegar: Pour one-half cup baking soda into the drain followed by one-half cup white vinegar; the fizzing and bubbling reaction helps to break up small clogs. Block the drain using a small rag so the chemical reaction doesn't all bubble up out.

  3. Set a full tea kettle on the stove to boil.

  4. Measure a 1/2 cup baking soda and dump it down your drain. In most sinks, the sink stopper will be in the way. You can use a Q-tip to push the majority of the baking soda down the drain. Don’t worry if you can’t get it all down, the next step will do the rest of the work for you.

  5. After the baking soda, measure a 1/2 cup white vinegar and dump that down the drain. Admire the fizzing for a minute or two.

  6. Now, the full tea kettle should be boiling. Carefully pour the whole kettle full of boiling water down the drain.

  7. Turn your faucet on and see if your sink is now draining at a normal speed. Repeating the process a second time may work.

Simple tools to fix slow or clogged drains or toilets